Anne hears that an old school friend of hers, Miss Hamilton now Mrs. Smith, is in Bath. After school, Mrs. Smith had married a rich man, but he was extravagant. Two years ago, he had died, leaving her a widow and deeply in debt. Soon afterwards, s he contracted rheumatic fever and was crippled by her illness. Anne decides that she must go visit her old friend, who is now almost entirely excluded from society.
When she visits Mrs. Smith, she finds that her friend's good spirits and good manners have not left her, though she is now in an awful situation. Mrs. Smith makes a living by selling her needlework to the wealthier women of Bath. They re-establish their f riendship and Anne promises to visit often.
One night, the Elliots receive an invitation to the Dalrymples' place, and Anne tells her family she must decline it because she has an engagement to visit Mrs. Smith. Sir Walter is horrified that Anne should be visiting such a poor neighborhood and is appalled that she chooses to associate with someone so much lower in consequence than herself.
The dinner party allows Mr. Elliot and Lady Russell to talk. Mr. Elliot expresses his high regard for Anne's character, and Lady Russell becomes convinced that he means to court Anne and not Elizabeth. This decision pleases Lady Russell immens ely, as she would love to see Anne, her favorite, holding her mother's place as Lady Elliot of Kellynch Hall. She thinks Anne is just like her mother in disposition and virtue. Though Anne loves the idea of becoming the future Lady Elliot, she remains sus picious of Mr. Elliot's motives and character. She finds him agreeable, but neither warm nor open.
A letter arrives for Anne from Mary, and Anne is pleased to learn that the Crofts have come to Bath. Mary's letter also brings Anne the news that Louisa Musgrove has become engaged to Captain Benwick. To everyone's surprise, they have fall en in love while Louisa was recovering at the Harvilles' home. Mary says that Benwick is not a good match for Louisa, but Mary considers it much better than marrying among the Hayters.
Anne is entirely pleased by this news, both because she thinks it very healthy for Captain Benwick to be attached to a young woman, and because this means that Captain Wentworth is once again free. Although she thinks their temperaments very different (Louisa is high-spirited and joyous; Captain Benwick more pensive and thoughtful), she is happy that they have found love.